Embodiment and environmental education

Phillip Payne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Summary: A nexus of theory and practice has occupied critical environmental educators for some time. The difficulties associated with creating a nexus that works justly ‘for the environment’ as well as the people living in it have been grappled with theoretically in the development of ‘a critical ecological ontology for educational inquiry’. This curriculum theory is characterised as being for the environment, in which phenomenologically based inquiries focus on mundane, everyday actions and interactions as the sources and consequences of socio-environmental problems and issues. ‘A critical ecological ontology’ indicates that the locus of understanding, explanation and praxis for the environment’ should be ‘in here, with me and you’ rather than ‘out there, somewhere, to be found, identified, studied and solved’. The formulation of a critical ecological ontology responds largely to the persistent allegations of the failures' of environmental education and the juxtaposition of the triple-bind of post-modernity on the unfinished agenda of critical curriculum theorising. Empirical qualification of a critical ecological ontology is demanded if the sought after nexus is to be satisfied. This paper reveals third year undergraduate students' understandings of their embodiment in action and interaction with a socio-environmental problem. Of utmost significance, this paper deliberates about the actions taken by students for being’ and for the environment’ some eight weeks after their initial investigations of embodiment issues and their environmentally problematic connections. One finding suggests that the practical efficacy of a critical ecological ontology must accommodate a series of broader tensions impairing one's own sense of self and ‘life politic’. The paper concludes with a brief discussion or re-theorizing of elements of a critical ecological ontology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-153
Number of pages21
JournalEnvironmental Education Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1997
Externally publishedYes

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